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Infamy or Praise

Updated: 2018-01-15T08:24:56.764-08:00


TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (338)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of "Internet sales & marketing professional" Mark Davidson, who writes "deep thoughts" on Twitter (from Thursday, September 22; link good at time of posting):

[Previous TGIS]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (320)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of Ars Technica (from Wednesday, May 18; link good at time of posting):
Just two days after the PlayStation Network was restored after a near month-long outage, the PSN password page has apparently been exploited. According to reports, the exploit allows other users to reset your account password using only your e-mail address and date of birth. This personal data was made available to hackers during the initial PSN attack.

The issue was first reported by Nyleveia, which was contacted by an unnamed source who reportedly performed the hack on a dummy account, prompting an e-mail message confirming that the password had been changed. Similar reports on gaming forum NeoGAF show an identical situation, in which the user provided the necessary information only to receive two subsequent e-mails: one claiming that someone was attempting to change the account's password and requesting the user click on a confirmation link, and another confirming that the password had been changed.

"I never clicked the confirmation link," the user wrote. "So yeah... my password was successfully changed by someone else."
[Previous TGIS]

A Round Tuit (57)


When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.What's that? You have no round tuit? My friend, you are fortunate indeed, for never before in human history have round tuits been so readily available. If you need one, Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. has them in stock.While you place your order, I'll share a few posts which are worth your attention.We take our technology more-or-less for granted these days, until something catches our attention and causes us to take stock of how far we've come. The appearance of IBM's "Watson" computer on Jeopardy against the program's two best human players was just such a thing. Not only was it great entertainment, but it was also one of those experiences which lent itself well to consideration from many perspectives.Technologists could marvel at the advances which made possible Watson's participation (and dominating win) in the match possible. Luddites could lament those same advances. Philosophers could reconsider what defines humanity now that machines can understand natural language and respond in kind. Those who wished to look to the future could wonder where IBM and others will apply the Watson technologies to solve practical problems. Those who looked to the past recalled the chess-playing "Deep Blue" computer of a decade ago or the thankfully-still-fictional "Skynet" computer described in Terminator a decade before then. Members of several professions, the legal profession not excluded, wondered whether Watson's performance heralded their own obsolescence.Whether because Watson was devoted to game-playing, because I tend to think of new technologies as generally benign, or because the latest Terminator movie was so forgettable, my thoughts turned to my old Atari console, circa 1980. At the time, I was astonished at what it could do but was still aware of (meaning frustrated by) its limitations. It fit into my life without changing it in a meaningful way. It made me think more about technology and how it could become more useful.Times change, of course. The new Android phone in my pocket (did you think I was just happy to see you?) has more computing power than that old gaming console; transported back to 1980, this phone would probably represent a meaningful portion of the then-existing computing power in the world. Right now, it's close enough to state-of-the-art that I can feel smug about it; six months from now, it'll be so behind the times that I'll be counting the months until my carrier allows me to upgrade. Whether it's Watson or Deep Blue, Android or Atari, modern and recent technologies would seem as alien to the us of one hundred years ago (when the company which became IBM was formed) as the technology of a century from now would seem to us. The question is, does technology really change us?Watson's resounding victory over its human competition prompted a number of people to look for a deeper meaning. Ian Kerr suggested that focusing on the game itself misses the real significance of this public display of technological advancement:I think people have totally missed the substantial social significance of what is going on with artificial intelligence projects such as Deep Blue and Watson.It's not about whether machines are better than humans at chess or Jeopardy! (or poker, or natural language or any other activity that can be said to involve human thinking). When an amazing company like IBM invests two-ish billion dollars in order to win a measly million-dollar prize, clearly something else is at stake.....Operating 16,000 times faster than my laptop, Watson generates responses to clues quickly, autonomously and, as IBM programmers came to learn, unpredictably. This incredible accomplishment in the field of artificial intelligence was practically unimaginable just a few years ago when Deep Blue beat Kasparov at chess.But Watson can't really play Jeopardy! -not without a human puppeteer pulling strings behind the scenes. Even if we say that Watson knows h[...]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (307)... The Sequel!


This week's bonus joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of Engadget (From Wednesday, February 9; link good at time of posting):

Sony PlayStation's (entirely fictional) Kevin Butler holds many (also fictional) positions within the company, but apparently none of them require him to keep up with (very real) news events. Travis La Marr (aka @exiva) tweeted the now-infamous PS3 METLDR root key towards Butler with the challenge to "Come at me." What's a spokesperson to do but confuse it for a Battleship reference and retweet the entire code?


Update: As Digital Foundry points out, this sequence actually refers to the USB dongle ID generator key, also used for PS3 security circumvention.
[Previous TGIS]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (303)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Saturday, January 8; link good at time of posting):
The North Korean government's official Twitter account appears to have been hacked, with the feed calling for an uprising to remove the leaders from power.

The microblogging site ranted to its 11,000 followers about huge spending on nuclear weapons and leader Kim Jong-il's lavish drinking parties "while 3 million people are starving and freezing to death."


The tweets, in Korean, were unlikely to harm the internal image of the country, as internet access is widely prohibited.

However, the hacking will come as an embarrassment to the regime – especially as Saturday was thought to be the birthday of Kim Jong Un, the man believed to be poised to take over.


One tweet from @Uriminzok on Saturday read: "Let's create a new world by rooting out our people's sworn enemy Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong Un!"

Though it remains uncertain who coordinated the breach, South Korean citizen media sites and the Yonhap news agency attributed the scheme to South Korean hackers.
[Previous TGIS]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (299)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of TorrentFreak (via Techdirt) (from Monday, December 13; links good at time of posting):
Unsurprisingly, [author Anne B.] Ragde isn’t a huge fan of eBook sharing. In order to thwart piracy, she refused to allow her latest novel to be released as an audiobook since the format is popular with file-sharers and also denied the publication of Russian and Chinese versions.

“Piracy scares the hell out of me. I do not know what to say. I lose sleep at night over it,” said Ragde. “I have figured out that I’ve lost half a million kroner ($72,500) on piracy of my books, maybe more.”


In response to a question about her habits when it comes to buying or otherwise acquiring copied or counterfeit items, Ragde’s anti-piracy halo slipped more than a little.

“Pirated handbags? Yes, I do buy them,” she said. “I feel that the genuine Prada bags have such an inflated price.”

Ragde then reportedly went on to list many other items she’s bought legitimately but was kindly assisted with a further confession by her son, Jo. If her halo had slipped with the bag admission, it was now set to strangle her.

“You have a pirated MP3 collection,” Jo added, helpfully. “We copied the first 1500 songs from one place and 300 from another.”

“Yes,” admitted Ragde. “There were a lot of things on the iPod.”


In a follow up to the revelations published in the interview, Ragde tried to defend herself by saying the quotes had been taken out of context. She also went on to blame the music piracy on her son while insisting she’s always been against illicit file-sharing.

“The stuff on my ipod is not representative of my relationship with the music industry and the products they produce. I pay for my music,” she insisted.

Ragde says that the ipod is in storage somewhere in her cottage so when she goes there to celebrate Christmas she will pull it out and delete all the music.
[Previous TGIS]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (292)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of (from Wednesday, October 20; link good at time of posting):
It's always hilarious when a security firm has its site hacked or has some other security-related SNAFU occur that you would think their own products could prevent. Such is the case with Kaspersky Labs, which recently saw its site not just hacked, but serving up malware.

Reports first came from users on Kaspersky's own support forums. The company initially denied the issue....


Kaspersky, however, finally 'fessed up.


Kaspersky said that the attack didn't expose customer data and that the exploit was contained quickly after it was discovered, which took some time, we assume, since they were initially denying it.
[Previous TGIS]

A Round Tuit (44)


When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.What's that? You have no round tuit? My friend, you are fortunate indeed, for never before in human history have round tuits been so readily available. If you need one, Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. has them in stock.While you place your order, I'll share a few posts which are worth your attention.I've never served as a juror in a criminal trial and as a lawyer I'm an unlikely candidate ever to be impaneled; it's possible, but highly unlikely. I've never prosecuted or defended a criminal case before a jury; I'm a lawyer, but I'm not that kind of lawyer and never will be. No, more likely than not, if I ever find myself interested in the deliberations of a criminal jury as something other than a casual spectator, it will be because my fate is in their hands.I'd not willingly trust my fate to the proverbial "twelve angry men" (or, if you'd prefer, "twelve good men and true"), knowing how fallible and prone to manipulation even the most intelligent and conscientious of us are. I am certain, however, that I'd sooner trust my fate to twelve people who couldn't escape jury service than to ten or eleven of that group when their fellows remain in doubt. Sure, as a (thankfully) prospective defendant, I'd rather have a unanimous jury of twelve hundred impartial peers or, better still, twelve highly-partial family members or people who owe me favors, but I accept that an impartial, unanimous jury of twelve is what our system of justice offers and with few exceptions has always offered us. Smaller juries? Prejudiced juries? Divided juries? No, thanks.The State of Oregon, where I went to law school and was admitted to the bar, is one of only two states (the other being Louisiana) where jury verdicts in criminal trials need not be unanimous. That's appalling, frankly, but under Apodaca v. Oregon it's Constitutional — for now and, hopefully, not for much longer. I'd prefer that Oregonians themselves would correct the situation, but I'd be nearly as happy if the Supreme Court would step in and do it for them.The first step has been taken. Eugene Volokh reported that he and colleagues at Mayer Brown LLP have filed a petition for certiorari asking the Court to reconsider Apodaca in light of more recent jurisprudence:Here’s the basic issue: In Apodaca v. Oregon (1972), the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires unanimity for a verdict — but that the Fourteenth Amendment does not carry this rule over to the states, and that even 9–3 verdicts are constitutionally permissible. The Jury Trial Clause is thus the one Bill of Rights clause that is neither completely incorporated against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, nor completely not incorporated. (Recall that the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government, and has been applied to the states only through the Fourteenth Amendment.) This partial incorporation is inconsistent both with prior Supreme Court practice and with this year’s McDonald v. City of Chicago decision. (McDonald calls such an approach “watered-down” incorporation.)In a follow-on post, Volokh discussed the history of the unanimity requirement:The right to a unanimous jury verdict was firmly established when the Bill of Rights was framed. Sir William Blackstone noted it as an essential feature of the right to trial by jury[.]....Unanimity was also part of James Madison’s understanding of the right to trial by jury. Madison’s original draft of what would become the Sixth Amendment provided for trial “by an impartial jury of freeholders of the vicinage, with the requisite of unanimity for conviction, of the right of challenge, and other accustomed requisites,” 1 Annals of Cong. 452 (1789).The proposal was ultimately revised, with the “unanimity” language omitted,[...]

A Round Tuit (41)


When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.What's that? You have no round tuit? My friend, you are fortunate indeed, for never before in human history have round tuits been so readily available. If you need one, Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. has them in stock.While you place your order, I'll share a few posts which are worth your attention.In 2008, when California voters approved Proposition 8, designated the "California Marriage Protection Act", opponents of the measure immediately challenged the amendment to the state constitution in both state and Federal courts. In last year's majority decision in Strauss v. Horton, the California Supreme Court found that Proposition 8 was valid under the state constitution and created "a limited exception to the state equal protection clause".In the consolidated Federal case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, decided by Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the District of Northern California this past Wednesday, Proposition 8 was determined to be unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. The best (and most frequently updated) coverage of the decision itself and early reactions to it was provided by David Lat and his merry band at Above the Law. An ongoing reader poll at the site showed reaction to the decision to be overwhelmingly (nearly eighty percent) in favor of the result (which the blog has since posted as a wonderfully hyperlink-enriched .pdf).Lat's co-blogger, Elie Mystal, was one of those who cheered the decision, tweeting that he was "so excited about the Prop 8 decision I had to remind myself that I'm not gay." He nonethless wondered whether same-sex couples fully-appreciate what they're in for and what chaos their Perry victory could cause in their relationships:So gay people in California may soon be able to engage in the lovely “sh** or get off the pot” conversation that dominates the life of every guy who has been dating the same girl for more than a couple of years. Yay, congratulations!But are gays and lesbians really sure they want marriage equality? After the cake, the reception, and the honeymoon, there are a bunch of… obligations that attach to marriage. Just look at New York. We don’t even have gay marriage here, and yet same-sex partners will find themselves on the hook for all sorts of things…....Oh, I kid, gays and lesbians. Marriage is really wonderful. Really. You all are going to love it. What other institution allows you to have less sex, more responsibilities, and the opportunity to lose half your stuff if you make an honest mistake?Perry is, of course, far from over; Ashby Jones mapped-out the next steps the parties will take. For the many who have speculated that the victorious plaintiffs would have an easy time on appeal at the liberal Ninth Circuit, Jones sounded a note of caution — "the initial appeal will likely be heard first by a three-judge panel. And as several legal experts told us, there’s a decent chance conservatives could outweigh liberals on that panel, which are chosen randomly." Concerning the Due Process and Equal Protection issues which will be tested in the appeal, Jones wrote:Judge Walker ruled that the “fundamental right” in the case was the right to marry — and that it had been denied the plaintiffs. It’s important to note that Walker didn’t say the right was to marry someone of a specific sex, which might not be defined as a “fundamental right,” rather the right to marry generally.....[USC Law Professor David] Cruz said that the Ninth Circuit could see this point differently, and find that the plaintiffs had been deprived not a fundamental right to marry but a right to marry someone of the same sex. Such a right would not be “fundamental” and therefore would presuma[...]

A Round Tuit (39)


When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.What's that? You have no round tuit? My friend, you are fortunate indeed, for never before in human history have round tuits been so readily available. If you need one, Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. has them in stock.While you place your order, I'll share a few posts which are worth your attention.The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has no shortage of critics. The breadth of the DMCA and the tools it gives copyright holders to control huge swaths of otherwise freely-transmitted and used information is, to say the least, somewhat concerning. One aspect of the DMCA in particular — the so-called anti-circumvention clause — shifts the balance between copyright control and fair use strongly in favor of copyright holders. In short, consumers of copyrighted works are permitted to use those works in a number of ways; copyright holders have added controls to their works which prevent many of those consumers' legitimate uses. Logically, consumers should be able to remove those locks and enjoy the full range of use rights to which they're entitled, correct? Well, not really. The law in this case favors the locks and prohibits the "circumvention" of protections even where done to enable a legitimate use. As author and technology blogger Cory Doctorow describes it, "In the traditional view, DRM [Digital Rights Management software] is absolutely protected, so that no one is allowed to break it except the DRM maker. In other words, a film-maker isn't allowed to take the BluRay DRM off her own movie, a video game programmer can't take the iPad DRM off her own game, and an audiobook author can't take the DRM off his own Audible book."Now comes a glimmer of common sense from the Fifth Circuit. Barry Barnett described the decision in MGE UPS Systems Inc. v. GE Consumer and Industrial Inc. as one which "cuts DMCA down to size":The software you use at work came from God knows where. Perhaps the Internet. But your copy features something the author didn't intend. Unlike the version the author sells, this one has somehow disabled the security feature that controls access to the software application and the underlying code.Have you violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?Yesterday the Fifth Circuit said no, you didn't.....Blawgletter infers that, under MGE, you don't run afoul of section 1201(a)(1)(A) unless (a) the security measure you circumvent (e.g., encryption of the software code) directly prevents copyright violations (copying, making derivative works of, and selling the work) and (b) you yourself write the code that you then use to circumvent the security measure.Mike Masnick was also cheered by the result in MGE:[The anti-circumvention clause] opened up the possibility of using pointless digital locks to try to lock users into certain hardware or software choices in an anti-competitive fashion. Thankfully, courts have rejected many of these attempts -- such as with garage door openers, third party repair service contracts and printer cartridges -- all of which were attempts to use copyright to stifle competition, not as an incentive to create. It looks like we've got another one to add to the list, though, like those previous rulings, the more ridiculous aspects of the anti-circumvention rules means that the court has to twist itself into painful contortions to make the ruling it wanted.....The [MGE court] suggested that simply using already available software to get around a digital lock might not be infringing itself. In other words, it suggests that only those who modify software to get around a digital lock may have violated the anti-circumvention clause. This could be a really big deal if other courts recognize this (or, if this case is appealed and it h[...]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (277)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of Boing Boing (from Tuesday, July 6; link good at time of posting):
Justin Bieber's "My World Tour" Twitter voting contest asked fans to vote on which country he should tour next, without restriction on which countries could be included in the vote. 4chan smelled opportunity: Anonymous nominated North Korea, then the boards clickswarmed. At the time of this blog post, more than half a million votes now demand the Canadian singer go do his thing on Kim Jong Il's party train.
[Previous TGIS]

TGIS: Thanks God It's Schadenfreude! (270)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of Boing Boing (from Wednesday, May 12; link good at time of posting):
naika_tei is a Twitter user and anime song DJ in Tokyo. Last week, he found himself stranded in the third floor toilet of an electronics store in Akihabara with a soiled ass and no toilet paper. So he sent out this tweet: "[Urgently needed] toilet paper in the 3rd floor toilet of Akiba Yodobashi." Five minutes later, he sent another desperate tweet.

18 minutes later, he sends another tweet saying: "The toilet paper arrived safely! Thank you very much!" Hooray for helpful Twitter followers!
[Previous TGIS]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (267)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Inquisitr (from Wednesday, April 21; link good at time of posting):

[Previous TGIS]

A Round Tuit (24)


When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.What's that? You have no round tuit? My friend, you are fortunate indeed, for never before in human history have round tuits been so readily available. If you need one, Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. has them in stock.While you place your order, I'll share a few posts which are worth your attention.Eric Goldman undoubtedly summed-up the Viacom-YouTube smackdown best this week:Who doesn’t enjoy a good old-fashioned mud-slingin' showdown? That’s exactly what we’ve got on our hands in the dueling summary judgment motions from Viacom and YouTube in the long-running copyright infringement case (see my initial post from March 2007). While we might have some voyeuristic fun watching the sparks, the latest salvos prove that the parties are both losers for not finding a way to settle this case. Only the lawyers win when two heavyweight contenders get locked into a cosmic death struggle. Everyone else would be better off if Viacom and YouTube instead had poured their millions of dollars of legal fees towards developing innovative and profitable ways to serve consumers’ interests. It’s ridiculous that they can’t find a way to do this.The stakes are certainly high enough. Is YouTube, formerly a brash startup and now a jewel in Google's crown, a "Video Grokster" built on the theft of others' copyrighted works or a responsible player which does more than the (often ambiguous) law requires to protect those works? The dueling motions for summary judgment filed by Viacom and Google paint, as Goldman puts it, "a 'Tale of Two YouTubes'", with Viacom's brief focusing "on YouTube of Yore, circa 2005-06, while YouTube’s brief largely focuses on YouTube of Now. In that sense, the briefs largely talked past each other."Mike Masnick covered the exchange often and insightfully. On balance, he concluded that Google's brief described the stronger position of the two; he highlighted a number of weaknesses in Viacom's arguments:[N]owhere does Viacom explain how YouTube employees could distinguish which content was actually infringing and which was put up for promotional purposes or what was fair use. This is a major weakness in Viacom's motion.Viacom's secondary arguments get weaker as you go down the list. It argues that because YouTube uses advertising to make money, that shows the company directly profits from infringement. That argument makes no sense -- because it would effectively wipe out any safe harbors for any commercial operation, which clearly was not the intent of Congress.....Viacom argues that Google could have blocked uploads with fingerprinting technology it had licensed, but fails to note the massive weaknesses in those fingerprinting technologies (which we still see thanks to Google's bad automated takedowns). It tries to bolster this argument by saying that Google refused to use the fingerprinting on Viacom content unless Viacom agreed to license its content to YouTube.... The way the fingerprinting works is that Google would need copies of the content to be able to recognize them -- and the only way to do that is if Viacom licensed works to them.....The crux of Viacom's argument rests on trying to break the DMCA safe harbors because Google and YouTube execs knew that there was a lot of infringing content on the site. But Viacom's argument breaks down entirely when you realize it doesn't explain how Google could ever make the actual determination of which videos are infringing. Viacom tries to get around this with some legal tap dancing, basically saying that it doesn't matter and Google just should have known what was infringing and what was not. But that makes [...]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (260)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of (from Tuesday, March 2; link good at time of posting):
INTA, the International Trademark Association, is a group of nearly six thousand trademark professionals in 190 countries. They protect the world’s brands.

They’re being Twitter-squatted. There’s no pretty way to say it.

In 2007, someone apparently seized their name as a Twitter handle and posted one five letter word, “srrrr”.


So what’s the lesson here: that squatting can happen to anyone, anywhere; that Twitter is tough; or that someone needs to drink their INTA juice?
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A Round Tuit (11)


When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.What's that? You have no round tuit? My friend, you are fortunate indeed, for never before in human history have round tuits been so readily available. If you need one, Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. has them in stock.While you place your order, I'll share a few posts which are worth your attention.I'm a proud non-Facebooker. I have my blog (blogs, if you count my occasional joint endeavor with Mike Semple Piggot at Unsilent Partners), a Twitter account, and a presence here and there on a few social networking sites, including LinkedIn. I don't see much need for another at this point and, frankly, I don't see much need for Facebook at any point. I'm not inclined to change my mind after reading about the recent changes Facebook has made to its privacy functionality. As I'm a "never will join Facebook", I suspect that Facebook couldn't care less what I think of those changes; they should be a bit more concerned about the uniformly-bad reactions I've seen from those who do use their service and others who are very-well-versed in privacy matters. Danielle Citron has praised the site as a "privacy norm entrepreneur" for some of its previous innovations, but is pretty non-plussed by the latest revisions to their privacy settings:Facebook’s launch of its new privacy settings this week, however, dampened my enthusiasm about its role as a privacy change leader. To be sure, Facebook should be credited for explaining consumers’ choices more clearly with its new privacy settings. But unfortunately they tend to push users to share more information, more widely, than the previous settings. They also don’t provide a default setting that would permit more granular privacy choices vis-a-vis one’s social relationships.Kevin Bankston and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have taken a close look at the new terms and are critical overall; though they consider the simpler privacy settings and per-post privacy options good changes from prior functionality, other changes are more suspect:The new changes are intended to simplify Facebook's notoriously complex privacy settings and, in the words of today's privacy announcement to all Facebook users, "give you more control of your information." But do all of the changes really give Facebook users more control over their information? EFF took a close look at the changes to figure out which ones are for the better — and which ones are for the worse.Our conclusion? These new "privacy" changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.Not to say that many of the changes aren't good for privacy. But other changes are bad, while a few are just plain ugly.As Kashmir Hill noted, the rank-and-file Facebook user isn't the only one who might be tripped-up by these privacy changes — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also found his entire profile, shirtless party pics and all, suddenly a bit more public than he might've preferred. (Thanks to Diane Levin and Peter Black for leading me indirectly to that last link.)Especially now, it seems that friends shouldn't let friends friend them on Facebook, and that's exactly what Cathy Gellis suggests. She explains that although Facebook describes the relationships between users as "friending", these operate very differently from friendships in the real world and can be a trap for the unwary:There are lots of horror stories about Facebook users being "outed" in some unfortunate wa[...]

Gmail Finally Walks Down the Aisle


Back in April 2005, I wrote a post called "Always a Beta, Never a Bride" which described the semi-permanent "beta" labels Google associates with many of its products. Gmail was a notable example, having been in beta at that point for a year (since April 2004).

Well folks, it's a beta no more, as of this morning. It's been widely discussed by technology blogs that Google is making this change to Gmail and to its other Google Apps products to make them more palatable to businesses. Okey-doke. Whatever. I'm just happy that I lived long enough to see this day.

Oddly, the Gmail product team has created a setting whereby users can revert the logo back to its old beta appearance. I suspect, however, that the only users who are that nostalgic for Gmail in beta are on the Gmail product team. Regardless, congratulations to them; I was a happy Gmail user when it was in beta and I'll continue to be a happy Gmail user from this point onward (without the beta logo setting, thanks very much).

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (211)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of the I'm Not Actually a Geek blog (from Tuesday, March 17; link good at time of posting):
A lucky job applicant tweeted the following:
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.

This tweet caught the attention of Tim Levad, a channel partner advocate for Cisco. To which he responded:
Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.

Ouch! The person who dissed the Cisco offer quickly took their Twitter account private. But Twitter search retained the record.

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The Blawg That Never Sleeps


...not this week, anyhow. Legal Blog Watch is amongst the legal blogging elite at the Legal Tech New York conference this week. They managed to kick the week and the conference off right with an excellent Blawg Review #197, highlighting famous ukulele performers of the mid-20th Century.

Hold on, that's the subject of my next Blawg Review; Legal Blog Watch focused on legal technology, which seems much more appropriate. Highlights include using social networking sites in the hiring process, discovering that virtual intelligence is neither the end-all of effective legal practice nor a substitute for due diligence, and (of course) Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, something many legal bloggers seem to be doing more-or-less continuously, you can follow the Legal Tech New York conference on Twitter using the hashtag search "#ltny."

Jeremy Richey hosts next week's Blawg Review at his East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog.

Tweet of the Ancient Mariner


Toward the end of Blawg Review #189, I mentioned a list of practicing lawyers, legal academics, legal professionals, and law students who microblog on Twitter. That list, maintained by Adrian Lurssen, is available here.Interestingly enough, each and every one of the attorneys whose posts were linked in the section on legal communications ("The Tale") are on Twitter, as are the Blawg Review Editor and both of his Sherpas.I tweeted yesterday that approximately half to two-thirds of the early traffic (morning and early afternoon, Pacific time) to Blawg Review #189 was driven by links from Twitter. As more traditional blogs linked to the post, Twitter's overall percentage of referrals diminished, but it still remained high overall. Of the final number of visits to Blawg Review #189 yesterday, 40.7% came from Twitter links. For a relatively new technology, I think that's pretty impressive.As Kevin O'Keefe, Denise Howell, and Nicole Black (among others) have noted recently, Twitter is building steam within the existing legal blogging community and attracting many in the legal community who otherwise lack a blogging presence. In addition to the Editor and Sherpas of Blawg Review, twenty bloggers featured in Blawg Review #189 are on Twitter. For those of you who are also on Twitter or are planning to join, I've listed their Twitter names below:Kimberly Alderman: @nomadtoesRobert Ambrogi: @bobambrogiVenkat Balasubramani: @vbalasubramaniMark Bennett: @houcrimlawBlawg Review Editor: @blawgreviewSusan Cartier Liebel: @scartierliebelCharon QC: @charonqcRon Coleman: @roncolemanDoug Cornelius: @dougcorneliusR. David Donoghue: @rddCarolyn Elefant: @carolynelefantGeekLawyer: @geeklawyerGideon: @gideonstrumpetScott Greenfield: @scottgreenfieldOmar Ha-Redeye: @omarharedeyeMatthew Homann: @matthomannGreg Lambert: @glambertAdrian Lurssen: @jdtwittVictoria Pynchon: @vpynchonAnne Reed: @annereedColin Samuels: @colinsamuelsEnrico Schaefer: @traverselegalIf any of these names are in error or if I've omitted anyone's name, please don't hesitate to advise me in comments, by e-mail, or via Twitter.[...]

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (190)


This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of the Associated Press (from Thursday, October 23; link good at time of posting):
A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.

Players in "Maple Story" raise and manipulate digital images called "avatars" that represent themselves, while engaging in relationships, social activities and fighting against monsters and other obstacles.

The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married, and killed the character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his beloved online avatar was dead.

[Previous TGIS]

Reconciling Google's Un-General Releases With Traditional Software Betas


Several years ago, I wrote about Google's curious practice of widely releasing developed (but still developing) products while officially designating these products as "beta" for extended periods -- often years -- without any discernible plan to remove that designation. As I wrote in that post:A new software product, like most new products, rarely is suitable for the masses in its first complete iteration from the development environment. Many times, planned features are not yet completed, some functions do not operate as expected or at all, or the design of the product doesn't meet the developer's or its users' needs. An interim version of the software is necessary to work through these concerns; such a version needs to be complete enough to work with but need not be so polished that it's considered "ready for prime time". Such a version is generally termed a "beta" release . . . .Thus, in the traditional sense, a beta product differed from the final (or "general release") product in two ways: 1) the product's intended audience (a sampling of the user base versus the entire user base); and 2) the "completeness" of the product. Implicit in the concept of the beta product is that it is an interim version of the product; the beta test is a prelude to the general release, rather than a general release in and of itself. This naturally begs the question, if a "beta" product is released to an entire user base and there is no definitive expectation by the developer to transition to a more complete and polished version, is this really a beta at all?In that post, I called this status an "un-general release", after the "un-birthday" celebrated by the Mad Hatter and the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. I certainly wasn't the first to wonder whether Google's "beta" was just a more-or-less empty designation, and in the years since my post others have touched on similar points. Recently, a post at the Royal Pingdom blog surveyed the current product landscape at Google, excluding the company's "Labs" software which is expressly-designated as a "technology playground . . . showcasing a few of our favorite ideas that aren't quite ready for prime time", and found that 22 of Google's 49 products are officially in beta, several for extended periods.Prompted by Royal Pingdom's post, Paul McNamara, a columnist for Network World, contacted Google for an explanation of the company's curious -- and curiously inconsistent -- beta designation practices. That explanation was illuminating for its lack of illumination if nothing else. According to McNamara, Google's reasons for keeping certain products in perpetual beta status include:High internal standards for bringing a product out of beta;Continual improvement of the products (driven by both customer and Google expectations); andDevelopment of products which are different than traditional software.McNamara suggested that, "Google has decided to strip the word 'beta' of its traditional meaning, while simultaneously continuing to use it in a traditional manner, which all but assures that no one will understand what they're trying to do. Either that or their explanation is still in beta." I'm not sure that he's far off, if he's wrong at all.My guess is that Google's high internal standards for general release (non-beta) products really boils down to a lack of established standards. Absent such standards, development teams would fill the void with their personal standards (which vary widely in any organization of Google's size)[...]

Blawg Review #179 is the greatest thing since Blawg Review #178


Blawg Review celebrates inventiveness on a regular basis, not just by covering the best intellectual property-related legal blogging but also by showcasing the creativity of its hosts. Blawg Review #179, hosted by the proprietors of the Securing Innovation blog, manages to achieve both in high style.

This week's Blawg Review commemorates el Día del Inventor, the Argentine holiday which recognizes the invention of the ball point pen by Buenos Aires native Laszlo Biro. His invention has become so ubiquitous the world over that in many Commonwealth nations, users refer to all ball point pens as "Biros". Equally ubiquitous it seems are "Bic" pens, a further development on Biro's original invention made by Marcel Bich. Even in an increasingly paperless society, there's a sound basis to claim that the the ball point pen is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread, incidentally, was invented by Iowan Otto Frederick Rohwedder, who apparently has no national holiday in his honor. Perhaps that's because he was unable to pinpoint which development his invention was the greatest since.

At any rate, this is a day to recognize the spirit of invention and Blawg Review #179 delivers. Highlights include early reviews of the upcoming inventor-in-jeopardy movie Flash of Genius from an IP attorney's perspective, transferring wealth to patent trolls in the midst of a financial crisis bailout with an as-yet-untrademarked name, and the launch of a new blog devoted to furniture law.

Andis Kaulins will host next week's Blawg Review at his LawPundit blog.

Random Thought (13)


I missed yesterday's "OneWebDay." I was on another web at the time and didn't get the message until this morning.

[Previous Thought]

I'm mostly there already -- I just need the "ter".


It always seems to me that Peter Black of the Freedom to Differ blog is a bit ahead of the curve. I like to think that it has something to do with the fact that he's located in Australia, where his day begins eighteen or so hours ahead of mine; sure that's a stretch, but it allows me to continue dismissing the mounting evidence that I'm just a little dim compared to him.

Today's Blawg Review #178 makes that self-deception a touch more difficult. In a Blawg Review first, Black published the entire thing piece-by-piece using Twitter, a microblogging platform which is being rapidly adopted by legal academics, students, and practitioners. Except me, of course. Yes, I know, if I try it, I'll get it and love it and wonder how on Earth I could've made it so this far without it. I'm still not going to do it, at least not yet. No one needs to know where I am and what I'm doing minute-by-minute. It just isn't that interesting, frankly. Weekdays, I'm at home, then in my car, then at the office, then in my car, then at home. Weekends, simply drop the office part and add another few iterations of "at home" and "in my car". There you go -- the past, present, and future whereabouts of the world's dullest man.

Notwithstanding my own Twitter ennui, I can certainly appreciate the enthusiasm of those Twitterers in the legal blogging community and the utility the platform offers them. Blawg Review #178 is a great example of what can be done with this new tool, but for those of us still wedded to "macroblogging", Black helpfully offers #178 in that format as well. In either medium, highlights include an abundance of perspectives on the American financial crisis, the legal implications of hacking Caribou Barbie's e-mail, and the irony that is the RIAA's complaint about a "vexatious" attorney.

The proprietors of the Securing Innovation blog host next week's Blawg Review, no doubt using a method which will make Twittering seem as quaint as calligraphy.